Tips for Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries
Foot and ankle injuries are common in sports, especially in winter sports such as rugby, netball, and soccer. But you can reduce the risk of injury by taking some simple precautions.
Use strapping or a brace if you have sprained your ankle before
If you have sprained an ankle before, getting your ankle strapped (or wearing an ankle brace), will greatly reduce your chances of re-spraining your ankle. This is particularly important if your previous ankle sprain was recent.
Warm up prior to training and playing
Get to training and games early so you have time to do a thorough warm-up. If you are well warmed up you are less likely to get injured. Warming up is particularly important when it is wet and cold through the middle of winter. ACC’s SportSmart website (https://accsportsmart.co.nz/warmup/), has some excellent warm-up routines specific for rugby, netball, league and touch rugby.
Condition your ankles for your sport
Doing some drills at training that are specific for your sport to improve your balance and strength will help reduce the chances of foot and ankle sprains. An example of one of these drills would be regularly balancing on one leg with your eyes closed for 30 – 60 seconds to improve balance. At Olympic Physiotherapy we can design a specific programme of exercises to help you improve your balance and strength specifically for your sport. Netballers may like to visit Netball New Zealand’s website (http://netballnz.co.nz/useful-info/netball-smart), which contains some excellent drills and training advice with regards to injury prevention.
Choose shoes that are specifically for your sport
Wearing shoes that are designed for the specific demands of your sport is very important. Cross trainers are an overall good choice, however, it is best to use shoes designed for your sport. Nike Free Runners are not sports shoes!
Replace your shoes regularly
You should have started each season with a new pair of shoes, and replace them during the season if they show signs of wear and tear.
Listen to your body
If you experience foot and ankle pain at training or during a game, stop until the pain subsides. If the pain persists, you should ice the painful area and make an appointment at Olympic Physiotherapy for assessment of your injury and appropriate treatment before returning to your sport.